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Japanese Honorifics

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Japanese are respectful people, so they have a lot of honorifics in their language. I've always noticed that in the animes I watched as a kid. Now, here's a question: What is the difference between the honorifics used by Japanese, say for example, -san, -sama, -chan, -tan? when do you use which? Hope you could enlighten me with this one, since it is my understanding that the improper use of honorifics can cause offense to the person being spoken too.

Thank you. :)

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-san is the most common honorific and it roughly translates to "Mr." or "Ms."

-chan is used for little kids or people who are close to you (family members or close friends)

-sama is like a more formal version of san that you use for your superiors. I've never actually used -sama to refer to a person... I mainly use -san. You also use -sama to refer to Gods (kamisama) and customers (Ogyakusama).

-tan is like chan, you use it for babies or friends who are close to you.

Since you just started studying Japanese, you probably haven't learned Keigo yet. But if you want to learn the real "honorific language", you should study Keigo. It's really confusing though, lol.

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Hey, thanks! You're really knowledgeable. Are there any other honorifics used?

BTW, WHAT. IS. KEIGO? OMG, here I am I'll be done once I'm finished with kanji. Seems like I have a lot more to learn.  :cry:

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Keigo is Japanese honorific language. You use it when you are speaking with your superiors or your customers. It's pretty confusing, but pretty important, lol.

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  • 1 year later...

I picked up most of these from various anime shows. Most characters tend to stick to the same ones, but everybody is different . It's interesting when you see someone refer to a god with -sama or a lover with -chan. A couple more honorifics that I don't think were mentioned yet are -chin and -kun. Chin is basically just another one used for close friends. Kun is used by people of senior status talking to those of junior status. Usually it's used only by males but some females will use it when addressing a guy they're emotionally attached to or have known for a very long time.

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